Advice From Two Seasoned Pest Pros To You Who Are Just Starting Out

I try very hard not to reinvent the wheel which means I’ll take advice from anybody who has a successful track record. Small operators or techs who have been around for awhile are some of the wells of knowledge I go to most often and I’m rarely disappointed. No, they’re not multi national or even million dollar gurus but who better to have in your foxhole when the odds are against you? There have been two local leaders in my pest control community that have made it possible for me to be writing this at all to you today. Two gentlemen that who probably haven’t given me much of a thought over the years but who I owe a great deal of gratitude. Two, who are shining examples of the professional whose made it through the woods and who you should listen to when you are just starting out.

Generous Peers

Early in my business one such man was my absolute hero. Just a two man company but he had some of the biggest accounts in town. One such account was the hospital where my wife worked double shifts to carry the load while my fragile business was slowly building. Once he knew what I did and what we were going through he always made sure to stop in and talk to my wife at her nurses station. He was always interested in how we were doing and eager to give advice. He’d even call me from time to time and see how I was doing. This busy man actually waved me down more than once and all but gave me the keys to his kingdom with his morale boosting and vision he had for us, his competitor. He always did so with a smile on his face and an honest concern in his heart. For a small fry like myself- he really was a God send and example that gave my wife & I renewed hope many times when things seemed pretty bleak. (and things got pretty bleak more than a few times)

New Levels, New Challenges

As time went on my route grew and what I thought my version of easy street would bring and what actually came were two very different things. Enter pro #2. This guy has been there done that and went from a single operator himself to 1 million dollar company. He too is the salt of the earth and more than willing to answer my call and modestly give his advice and even asks mine from time to time. (he’s just trying to make me feel good) As my route burgeoned and I was going through employee problems, new tax realities and all the things associated with growth- he gave me some of the best perspective that has helped me tremendously. He explained that with each level of growth there was a whole new set of problems, challenges and rewards. $0 to $60 k had it’s tremendous challenges and most operators don’t even get by that. $60 to $120- in this area is a solid route and many companies flatten off and live very comfortably but struggle with the heavy work load. Adding an employee kills the bottom line but you cannot grow without one. From there you look at doubling the route which brings you some level of stability and adding employees is easier but with the $300 k and up level comes almost as much work as when you were struggling to get it all done alone. $3 to $600 is another tremendous bridge and getting to 1 million is in itself a huge climb.

While each step is a foundational stone and makes the next move forward easier it’s never care free. You’d be wise to know there awaits a new set of problems on every level of achievement for the single operator moving forward that can either stifle you or set you back completely. Make sure that you’re not caught off guard or get too cocky.

Experience Is Just Failure You Overcame

If you read my blog at any length you’ll find I have tons of stories that are filled with odd or ironic situations and truthfully, I’m only about 1/2 way through all that I’ve seen. While there were many rough times and places along my path where I just wanted to quit, there was always a lesson, a hidden drive, a motivation that fueled my desire to go further. This was almost always because of another tech- a solid pro. Someone I could look to even if they didn’t know it and draw from something they said or did that helped me dig deeper for an answer or just encouraged me to stick it out one more day. Such are the examples I site above. Neither person knows really what they’ve helped me through nor would they tout themselves if I gave their names.

They are, like so many in our industry just seasoned pros who want nothing more than to see you the new operator, achieve great success and to keep the giving going.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Phil Polk

    That is what you are to us Jerry, you are our bug Guru!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read your  past articles and BAM you are saying exactly how I feel and what I am going through. Seriously, I look to you as my partner and a valuable source of information that I can’t find anywhere else. Please keep the articles coming more, more, more!

    Phil Polk
    San Carlos Pest Control
    San Carlos, Mexico

  • Stuto1

    Another great article. I’m in the 0-60k range so this blog has been a godsend to me. Keep the articles coming!

  • Hey Phil,
    That is so awesome for you to say! Compliments are always great but even more so when they come from a peer.

    Thank You

  • Thank you my friend- your comment reminded me of my 0 to 60 days. It wasn’t till 96 97 when I broke past that and headed up the scales- It was the same year my Packers won the Super bowl- 🙂  Good year for me. Last year they won again and I hit another high– I hoping for a repeat this year.

  • As with any business you always have those that are willing to share. I learned a long time ago that the bug business had plenty of opportunity in it for all of us. There are some that won’t share, but I also have a a few people I always go to and likewise. Wisdom and mistakes can always be shared, I don’t have enough time to commit all those mistakes myself.

  • That last line would make a great bumper sticker!

  • Just as Stuto1 stated, great article. I’m also in the 0-60k range here in Austin, Texas and your blog is awesome and quite amusing. Thanks for all the hard work!

    Dan Cervantes
    Pest Solutions

  • Thanks for the kind words Dan,

    There’s a few others sprinkled around that might be of interest as well. My passion is for the tech and small operator– it seems like we’re the back bone of the industry but so little recognition or help comes our way until we hit the 8th truck or 3rd branch mark…hell even I don’t need help at that point. Hang in there and I think both you and Stuto will be experiencing the next level sooner than most– The reason, you all are smart enough to keep educating and pushing yourselves and that will eventually get rewarded.

    This article seems to help http://pestcemetery.com/single-operator-setbacks-keeping-faith/ hope it will for you too.

  • Thomas

    Hello Jerry,
     Thanks for responding to my email regarding mice treatment issues. Having just started in
    this industry, I trully appreciate your encouragement.

    Thomas

  • My pleasure- I wish I had a single ‘silver bullet’ for rodent work but once you’ve done a few and seen some different scenarios it gets so much easier. You’ll find you adapt and decisively take care of this and many other puzzles almost automatically.